“Inhale the future, exhale the past.” ~Anon.
2020 has been one for the books. Every single one of us has been affected in some way or another; in many instances likely not for the better. If we were not personally affected by the Coronavirus, we may have known someone that was, or we felt the direct aftermath of COVID-19 on our economy, our friendships, and our very lives.
How will we choose to remember 2020? I have seen funny ornaments saying, “2020: Everything Sucked,” and heard songs saying, “Can we just skip to 2021?” While 2020 has rocked us, it has also taught us some valuable lessons. It is by these lessons that I want to choose to remember this year. I want to look back on 2020 and not think of it as the year of the face mask or the Global Pandemic, but instead as the year that I learned a lot about myself and my world. Here are a few of the things we can choose to remember about 2020:
We will choose to remember that good health is a precious commodity:
16.8 million cases and 304,000 deaths. Literally every individual and family was affected in some way. For a time, I am sure each of us feared contracting the virus ourselves or having a loved one fall ill with it. We wore face masks everywhere and used copious amounts of hand sanitizer. We stayed away from our friends and family members–even during the holiday season– to flatten the curve of this virus. Never again will we be flippant about good health! Let us choose to remember that 2020 was the year we learned to cherish a healthy body and all that enables us to do!
We will choose to remember that steady income is a blessing:
Unemployment rose higher in three months of COVID-19 than it did in two years of the Great Recession. Millions of people have been affected by decreases in hours, pay cuts, layoffs, and the stresses that come with financial instability. Financial strain is not unfamiliar to many of my readers; the stress that comes with this spills over into every aspect of our lives. When we have money enough to pay the bills and put food on the table, we count ourselves lucky. Everything else truly is extra! Let’s choose to remember that 2020 has taught us what an amazing blessing having a steady income is.
We will choose to remember we are ultimately in charge of our own lives:
When lockdowns and quarantines were first beginning to take effect, many of us found ourselves largely thrown off our regular routines. Working from home required self-discipline to be productive despite distractions and somehow having the control to not eat through the whole pantry. No one was in charge of us; WE were responsible for ourselves. If we wanted to get work done, WE had to make it happen. If we wanted to eat or exercise well, WE had to make it happen. Yes, there are and will always be things that are entirely out of our control, and there will always be things that are in our control. Let’s remember that 2020 was the year that put us in the drivers’ seat of our own lives and to play with the cards we have.
We will choose to remember the need to nurture important relationships:
2020 and the pandemic taught us how much we need each other. We need meaningful connection with those we care about. I have written at length about the biological need humans have for connection, and this year was even more proof of that. Mental illness concerns have been at an all-time high due to quarantine and lack of contact. Depression, anxiety, and suicide rates have increased. Many have reported feeling isolated and lonely. We have had to get creative about how we keep in touch with our friends and family, and we are lucky we have the technological advancements to support that. This year has taught me how much I need my friends and family, as well as how important it is to be there for each other. It is a lesson I hope to carry with me through the rest of my life! Let’s remember that 2020 taught us that we need connection.
We will choose to remember that we can do hard things, that we can make it through difficult situations:
Through all the mandates, lockdowns, quarantines, and everything in between, we have learned how to be flexible. We have learned how to be resilient, how to (*try* to) be patient, and how to make the most of whatever situation we may find ourselves in. I mean, when did you ever think you would be okay eating Thanksgiving with your family over Zoom?! Let’s choose to remember 2020 as the year we learned how strong we are. Because we are strong! We are brave. We are capable of facing challenges and overcoming them. If 2020 has taught us one thing, it is that we will be ready for whatever 2021 (and 2022, etc) brings!
So, how will we remember 2020? We will remember it as a year that refined and defined us, and prepared us for our futures. It was the year that reminded us of the importance of good health, steady income, and important relationships. 2020 was the year that taught us how to make figurative lemonade out of lemons, and that only we can do that for ourselves. Above all else, the most important lesson we can take away from 2020 is that we are strong and capable of rising above difficulties. These are just a few of the ways I will remember and be grateful for this year. How will you remember 2020?
Melissa Cluff is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist based in North Texas, providing face-to-face and telehealth therapy options to clients in Texas.
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- Pew Research Center: Unemployment rose higher in three months of COVID-19 than it did in two years of the Great Recession
- Turning Point of Tampa: How COVID-19 is Affecting Our Country
- WHO: Coronavirus Disease Dashboard